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2011 NIT Bracket: Boston College Faces McNeese State In Opening Round

Boston College plays its first game in the 2011 National Invitation Tournament on Tuesday evening, squaring off against McNeese State in a first round match-up in Lake Charles, LA, at 9 p.m. EDT (ESPNU).

The Eagles (20-12, 9-8 ACC) are a No. 1 seed while the Cowboys (21-11, 11-5 Southland Conference) received a No. 8 seed. Tuesday night's game will be the first ever match-up between the two schools. 

Tuesday night's game will be played at the Burton Coliseum, marking the first time an NIT game will take place at the 35-year-old stadium. The official capacity is listed as 6,500 with a temporary seating of 2,000.

"It's exciting for us to be playing in the NIT and to also be playing a team out of the ACC right here in Burton Coliseum," said Cowboy head coach Dave Simmons.

Simmons is no stranger to the NIT, although this is his first appearance in the postseason as a head coach. 

McNeese head coach Dave Simmons makes his first appearance in post season play as a head coach but he's had past experience and success as a member of the coaching staff at other schools.

He was an assistant at Northwestern State when the Demons won a first round NCAA tournament game in 2006 and he was an assistant at McNeese when the Cowboys played in the 1989 NCAA, falling to Illinois 77-71 in first round action.

Also, he was an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech when the Bulldogs advanced all the way to the NIT's Final Four in 1986 and to the second round of the NCAA playoffs in both 1984 and 1985.

"It's still a one game season for us," Simmons said. "Win and you play on. It's unbelievable that we have a home game and it's something that I hope we can take advantage of."

McNeese State, which won the 2011 Southland Conference regular season title, earning it an auto-bid, is making its third appearance in the NIT and its first since 2001. The Cowboys, who are 1-2 all-time in the NIT, lost to UTEP, 84-74, in the first round of the 2001 NIT. In 1986, McNeese State posted its only win in the tournament over Dayton, 86-75, in the first round but lost to Louisiana Tech, 77-61, in the second round.

Boston College is a little more familiar with the NIT, possessing a 16-11 all-time record in the tournament. Here's a little background information on Boston College in the NIT from the school's official athletics website.

For Boston College, 2011 marks the program's 11th appearance in the National Invitation Tournament. BC has a 16-11 all-time record in the NIT. The Eagles last participated in the NIT in 2003, defeating Fairfield (in Bridgeport, Conn.) in the opening round, before losing to Temple (in the Palestra) in the first round.

The Cowboys boast an impressive 15-1 record at home this season, with their only loss coming against Southeastern Louisiana, 81-74. In addition, McNeese State was minutes away from winning the 2011 Southland Conference Tournament, but lost to UT San Antonio in the title game, 75-72.

McNeese State ranked 45th in the nation in scoring (74.4 points per game) in 2011, and was 154th in team field goal percentage (43.9%). The Cowboys also ranked 134th in rebounding (35.6 RPG) and 301st in assists (11.3 APG). Here's a breakdown of McNeese State's offensive attack via NewOrleans.com.

The Cowboys have a balanced scoring attack with four players averaging points in double figures. Junior Patrick Richard leads the way with a 15.9 average followed by Diego Kapelan at 15.0, Stephan Martin 10.4 and P. J. Alawoya 10.3.

Alawoya was the only player in the conference to average a double double this season and he is also tops in rebounds with a 10.3 mark.

C. J. Collins and Preston David are the other two Cowboy starters as Martin will go in off the bench.

Boston College enters Tuesday's game coming off an embarrassing 70-47 loss to Clemson in the quarterfinals of the 2011 ACC Tournament. Joe Trapani paced the Eagles with 20 points and five rebounds while Reggie Jackson finished with 11 points and four assists in the loss.

Jackson is the Eagles' leading scorer, averaging 18.4 points, and leads the team in assists (4.5 APG) and steals (1.1 SPG) while also averaging 4.3 rebounds per contest. Trapani is second in scoring (14.8 PPG) and leads BC in rebounding with 7.1 boards per game. Corey Raji is third in scoring (12.1 points) and second in rebounding (6.7 RPG) while Biko Paris averages 10.2 points for Boston College.

Based on the last few games, Eagles' head coach Steve Donahue's starting lineup should look like this: Joe Trapani (C), Corey Raji (PF), John Cahill (SF), Biko Paris (SG) and Reggie Jackson (PG).

The Eagles rank 94th in the country in scoring (71.6 PPG) and 66th in field goal percentage (45.9%). In addition, BC is 34th in the nation in assists (15.2 APG) and 297th in rebounding (32.2 RPG).

While neither team has met before, Boston College and McNeese State had one common opponent in the 2011 regular season. Both schools played Texas A&M, with BC topping the Aggies 67-65 and the Cowboys losing to A&M, 66-57.

Mitch Holthus and Reid Gettys will serve as the announcers for Tuesday's game on ESPNU.

For all things BC, be sure to visit BC Interruption